Abiding In The Word Made Flesh

John 12:46-48 WEB

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness. [47] If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. [48] He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.


The Word of God will judge us on the last day. That is an excellent reason to become familiar with the Bible. Jesus came to save us. Even now, he is not judging us but rather, loving us into the kingdom. That love includes the grace you need to lay ahold of the truth found in the Bible. If you have access to a Bible, you are responsible for all it says. According to the world that is impossible. But we are not of the world and Jesus clearly thought we could know the Word. We have the truth, and that truth will judge us in the end.

The truth is a great light to all who believe (Ps 119:130). For those who reject the Word of God as a mandate, there is darkness. Not darkness as the world perceives, but darkness of the mind and spirit. When we are witnessing to the lost we are talking to people lost in the dark. Thus, we must shine brightly with righteousness and holiness so the lost can find their way (Mt 4:16).

These virtues come to us when we hide the Word in our hearts. Jesus is called the Word. When we are hiding the Word in our hearts we are abiding with Christ. We know he abides with us, but we must be deliberate if we are going to abide with him. Jesus is the living Word, and the Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, when we hide the Word in our hearts, not only are we abiding in Christ, but we are also filling ourselves with the Spirit. The Word is the mind of Christ. The Word is our lamp, and we must keep our light brightly shining (Isa 28:18).  


Lord, please bless me to hunger and thirst for Your Word. Fill me with an interest in the Bible and help me practice hiding it in my heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.

See Me, See God

John 12:44-45 WEB

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. [45] He who sees me sees him who sent me.


When we reflect God, we obey the Bible. We care about the 10 commandments and the commandments of the New Testament. It is natural to bind the Word to our hearts, it reflects the Father. Additionally, we put away anger. Instead, we respond to people gently, even when they are rude. We do not try to get even or to justify ourselves. Instead, we are patient, caring more about the things of God than our egos. Finally, when we reflect God, we walk in love. We put away jealousy and bitterness in exchange for mercy, kindness, and grace. In our daily walk, we testify of God through our words and actions.

When we practice these basic principles, God is reflected to the people around us. We must separate ourselves from sin and come into obedience to the Bible. More, we must submit our goals to God. Are our goals truly Biblical reflecting the whole counsel of the Bible? Or do all our choices hang on one or two scriptures that speak of blessings? When we are purposed to reflect God to the world, we bring all these areas of “flesh” into obedience to the Scripture.

When we separate ourselves from fleshly indulgences we begin to look like Jesus. We both reflect God, and we reflect Jesus’ motivations. Like Jesus, we love to the point of laying down our lives. We are powerful to confront sin in other believers. We are passionate about getting people into a relationship with God. We also believe the Bible when we reflect God. We believe in heaven and hell and an eternal destiny so we realize the worthiest thing we can do to reflect God and imitate Jesus is to share the gospel with the lost.


Lord, please help me have the same motivations as Jesus. I long for those around me to see your love and goodness. Please help me witness to the lost. Help me focus on your priorities. Teach me to love others more than myself. Please help me bring my flesh into subjection to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Blinded Eyes and Hardened Hearts

John 12:37-40 WEB

But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him, [38] that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” [39] For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again, [40] “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.”


How can we be responsible for God blinding our eyes and hardening our hearts? This is the very thing Paul addressed in chapter 7 of Romans. It brings new meaning to the idea of being saved by grace. We are saved by grace but are rewarded for our choices. Those who seek the Lord with humility will find him. The Word says that the one who has some will be given more and the one who has little will lose even what they have (Mat 25:15-28). This gives us insight into how to respond to this passage.

If we seek God, he will soften our hearts and open our eyes to be able to see him. Seeking God is easy. It is reading the Bible, praying, and attending public worship. We can also seek God with our behavior. On the other hand, we can also push God away with our behaviors. If we deliberately sin God will harden our hearts so that we continue to sin. Of course, if we deliberately walk in righteousness the Lord will soften our hearts so we walk in more righteousness.

The Lord is righteous. He does not cast anyone away from himself who walks in righteousness and holiness. The Word says those he foreknew he predestined to be sons of God (Rom 8:29). It is not that God is fickle. It is that God knows the future. God knows who will choose him and who will not. Of those that choose him, he creates opportunities for success. For those who are never going to choose him, he gives over to sin and unrighteousness. The primary thing we can do to ensure that God continues to open our eyes is to seek God and walk in righteousness.


Lord, please open my eyes so I can see you and understand your will. Soften my heart so I recognize sin in myself and give me the chance to repent. I long to be both saved and to have a vibrant relationship with you, Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Walking in the Light

John 12:35-37 WEB

Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn’t overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going. [36] While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” Jesus said these things, and he departed and hid himself from them. [37] But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him,


What does it mean to walk in the light? It means a person who believes in Jesus and walks according to his teachings. The deeds of the light are mercy, justice, and humility (Micah 6:8). That is what walking in the light meant 2000 years ago and it still means the same thing today. Believers today must still walk in the light. When a person is walking in the light, they are obedient to the Bible. People walking in the light are convinced that all sin is darkness.

There are several sin lists in the New Testament. Romans 1:29-30 is one of those lists. Some of the things on this list might be a surprise. For example, gossip is grouped with murder. Also, from the same verses boasting and arrogance are also compared to murder. When we walk in these sins and have no urgent desire to stop sinning, we are walking in the dark. When we walk in the light, our sin is a great burden. When we walk in the dark it sounds foolish to repent of sin and walk in the light (Cor 1:18).

An urgent desire to stop sinning is apparent in the life of a person walking in the light. The deeds of walking in the light are different than the deeds of darkness. In the light people visit orphans and widows (James 1:27). They guard their hearts and mouths turning away from evil speaking and evil deeds (John 17:15). People in the light are healed and delivered from sin (Romans 12:2). And righteousness is their heart’s desire (John 2:29).


Lord, give me the grace to recognize and turn away from sin. Please help me read the Bible and give me an understanding of the Bible. I long to walk in your commandments, Lord. Please help me to embrace righteousness and walk in the light.

How much Scripture did Jesus Know?

John 12:12-16 WEB

On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, [13] they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” [14] Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, [15] “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” [16] His disciples didn’t understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him, and that they had done these things to him.


I have always wondered how much of the Word Jesus knew. Did he know the minor prophets well enough to quote them? The scripture quoted in the above passage was from Zechariah 9:9. Or, was he merely flowing in the Spirit during his life? It was when Jesus rose from the dead that he began to teach the Word to his disciples (Luke 24:27) In verse 32 of Luke 24 the disciples are in wonder that their hearts were burning as Jesus taught them. It is clear in his resurrected state Jesus had a huge knowledge of the Word of God.

But that still doesn’t answer the question; how much of the Bible did Jesus know before he rose from the dead? To understand Jesus, it is essential to look at his family history. Jesus was born into a middle-class family. That means his family would have had the means to help Jesus pursue his knowledge of the Scripture. It was common for young men from prosperous families to seek to study with a Rabbi. Jesus’ family was most likely prosperous. Furthermore, there was a major building project going on during Jesus’ lifetime. Sepphoris was the capital of Galilee and was under ongoing construction during Jesus’ life. It is also a city in which Rabbinical families settled. It is very likely Jesus spent many years walking the 3.5 miles from Nazareth to Sepphoris to work with his father Joseph.

So what does it all mean? It means that growing up, Jesus was located near the capital of Galilee. He was from a family of financial means. He also had access to rabbinical teaching because of his family’s status. It is likely that Jesus was formally trained by a Rabbi and did indeed know the scripture. Moreover, his knowledge of the scripture seems to be greater than someone who had only gone to the synagogue to learn all they knew. It is almost certain that Jesus studied the Scripture formally.


Lord, please instill in me a desire to learn more about the Bible. I want to be a worker who knows how to handle the Word responsibly. Bless my study, Lord, and help me arrive at the truth. Please fulfill my heart’s desire to know more about you, Jesus. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus’ Family

John 12:1-2 WEB

Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. [2] So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him.


Six days before the Passover Jesus came out of hiding (John 11:54). He went to Bethany, to the household of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were practically family and Jesus trusted them enough to stay with them. Jesus was not hiding anymore. He had a following of disciples and apostles that would have been in Bethany with him. So, it was only a matter of time before the religious leaders found out Jesus was back in Judea.

The Pharisees were plotting to kill Jesus (John 11:53). For this reason, he stayed in Ephraim on the edge of the wilderness. However, the Passover was just six days away and so Jesus went back to Bethany. He would not have gone at all except if the Father revealed it to him (John 5:19). So, in faith, Jesus goes. He goes to his favorite family, putting them in danger as well.

But it was good that Jesus had Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to stay with. Martha is serving, her normal behavior. Lazarus is relaxed at the table with Jesus. This family is not afraid of danger. Lazarus was raised from the dead and the man who raised him was sitting at the table. Jesus chose well in trusting this family. He had done great things for them and had inspired great faith in them.


Lord, help me stand steady in my walk with you. Give me the courage to serve you. I want to be a daughter you can trust. I want to be close to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Reproach of Jesus

John 11:47-48,53-54 WEB

The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. [48] If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [53] So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. [54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.


It is startling to think that Jesus had to hide from the authorities. Can you see Jesus and the disciples looking around corners, being careful of where they walked? It has a dramatic flair. But it also shines the light on Jesus’ humanity. Though he was God, he functioned entirely in his humanity and made himself subject to human authority.

Jesus was humble. He took his disciples and quickly departed to the edge of the wilderness to a city called Ephraim. He could have called angels to save him from the death plot (Mat 26:53). Instead, he removes himself and his followers from the danger. Jesus does not tempt God but rather takes a more difficult path (Mat 4:7). He is obedient to the Word even though he is fleeing.

Jesus was obedient to the Word and the Spirit. This caused him to receive condemnation from those in Judea. We also receive condemnation when we obey the Word of God or walk in the Spirit. For example, the Word says not to gossip. However, gossip is a very prominent sin. To refuse to engage in gossip is to put yourself at odds with people both in and out of the church. Likewise, Jesus ran the risk of heaping more reproach upon himself with every miracle he performed and every sermon he preached.


Lord, I thank you for humbling yourself to human authority on your journey to the cross. Thank you for receiving reproach just as we receive reproach today. You are honorable in all you do Jesus. Help me be more like you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bridled Tongues

John 11:46-48 WEB

But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. [47] The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. [48] If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”


Talebearers are deadly. Even Jesus was the subject of malicious gossip. And in Jesus’ case, it led to his death. That is what the Bible is talking about in Romans 1:29 where it joins gossip with the sin of murder. This is an insidious problem for all people and groups. The tongue is a destroying flame (Jas 3:5).

Despite the damage gossip causes, it seems to flourish. This is one of those sins that give us insight into our own hearts. If we engage in gossip, we are counted with murderers by God (Rom 1:29). So why do God’s people engage so freely in gossip? Something like this usually starts at the top. If the pastors and leadership are violating people’s trust and gossiping, it is going to be hard for that same group to purge gossip from the congregation.

Gossip in the congregation reveals the condition of the church to the leadership. Gossip is not a sin that will be overlooked at the judgment. It is clear in the Bible that gossip is a deadly sin. It is easy to see in ourselves, in others, and in groups. Therefore, it is something that needs to be addressed. Pastors and clergy are responsible for the wellness of their flock. It is a betrayal when leaders overlook so great a sin infecting their people.  


Lord, forgive me for gossiping. Help me learn to talk with others without gossiping. I ask for a holy conviction to come upon me for the things I say. Help me bridle my tongue, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Love Abandoned

John 11:43-46 WEB

When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” [44] He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.” [45] Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him. [46] But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.


Even after bringing the dead to life some of the Jews were offended. Thus, they went to the Pharisees to report on Jesus’ activities. It appears that all the Jews present were interested in the things of God. Some received Jesus as a savior while others reported him as an agent of evil to the religious leaders. It reminds me of the modern-day trouble we have between Conservative and Liberal Christians. Both parties have strengths and weaknesses. However, instead of loving one another, they appear to be at war.

From Conservatism, we get the Holy Spirit working actively. This is also where the miracles happen. Conservative missionaries seem prone to miracles. Conservatives also have a focus on saving the lost and getting the gospel to every people group. They have done a great deal to build the Church. However, there are some issues as well. First off is a deep suspicion of anyone who thinks differently or has different kingdom goals. The focus on God is great, but the narrowmindedness to all other groups is not great. Much love is abandoned in the demand for total agreement.

On the other hand, Liberal Christians focus on history and look for answers to today’s issues in ancient texts. They are more concerned with the knowledge of the Lord. Frequently liberals study the text to compare word usage and other markers which reveal much about the Bible. They are also focused on relieving poverty and meeting the needs of the poor. However, Liberals do not have as a primary concern the salvation of the Lost or the active building of the Church.


Lord, please help me discern what is good from what is evil. Fill me with love for all Christians. Inspire me to share the gospel and fill me with compassion for the poor. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Metaphor?

John 11:11-15 WEB

He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” [12] The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” [13] Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. [14] So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. [15] I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”


Some Christians believe the Word of God is black and white with rigid borders and boundaries. Other Christians turn everything into a metaphor with a plethora of meanings. So, which is it? Is the Bible to be obeyed to the letter? Or, should the Bible be analyzed as a metaphor so that people can take a range of meanings from the Word? In the above passage, Jesus mixes metaphor with concrete action.

Jesus tells the disciples Lazarus has fallen asleep. Actually, Lazarus is not sleeping, he is dead. What do we do with a passage like this? Do we call Jesus a fool or a liar? No, of course not. Jesus is hinting at the coming resurrection. When he says “Lazarus, has fallen asleep,” it is a metaphor that expands the meaning to something greater than the words therein. Lazarus had died but was going to awake from death.

But the metaphor is only part of the passage. There is also a concrete, black and white, command. Jesus tells the disciples, “Neveretheless, let’s go to him.” It was time for Jesus’ entourage to make their way to Bethany. They were in danger of being arrested and killed. So, it was not an easy command to obey. Without the hope found in the metaphor, the command seemed pointless.


Lord, help me listen to your Holy Spirit so that I can understand your Word. Fill me with obedience and understanding. Let your Word be a lamp to my feet. In Jesus’ name, amen.